Breathing Space – The Debt Respite Scheme


Breathing Space is a legally enforced scheme that allows you time to seek professional debt advice. Your creditors are unable to chase the debts.

What is “Breathing Space” – The Debt Respite Scheme?

There are two types of breathing space, Standard Breathing space and Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space.

Standard Breathing Space Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space
Who is eligible An individual with a qualifying debt who meets eligibility criteria and conditions A client with qualifying debt who meets eligibility criteria and conditions, who is receiving mental health crisis treatment
What is the criteria • Must be an individual living in England or Wales
• Must be struggling or about to start struggling to maintain payments towards debts
• You have to have at least one qualifying debt, such as credit cards, loans, over drafts, payday loans, catalogues etc. Other debts including rent, mortgage, utility and council tax arrears also qualify however you do have to maintain ongoing payments and it is only the arrears that can be included.
• Not have the means to clear debts, e.g. ISA’s or assets which can be sold • Not have a Debt Relief Order, and Individual Voluntary Arrangement or be an undischarged bankrupt
• Not already had a breathing space in the last 12 months
• Must have a qualifying debt
• Must be receiving mental health crisis treatment
What are the conditions? • You must engage with the advisor throughout the Breathing Space
• You must keep paying some ongoing liabilities such as your priority bills. You must not take out additional credit over £500
Nominated point of contact must engage with the debt adviser
How often can you apply No more than once a year No limit

Is Breathing Space suitable for me?

If you are struggling or about to start struggling with problematic debt and require time to seek debt advice and consider your options Breathing Space could be for you.

  • Most importantly there is no charges or fees to be paid for applying for and being granted Breathing Space. 
  • Breathing Space will prevent creditors from taking most types of enforcement action or adding fees and charges – as long as you meet breathing space conditions (no requirement to meet conditions in Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space).  
  • Breathing Space provides you with the time and opportunity to get advice from advisory organisations that are regulated and experienced in assisting with problem debts. Creditors are prevented from starting or continuing with any action during the Breathing Space period.

There are conditions that apply to Standard Breathing Space which is not adhered to can mean that your Breathing Space is cancelled. These include:-

  • You must engage with Debt Advice.
  • You must report changes of circumstances.
  • You must pay certain ongoing liabilities (if you can afford to do so).
  • You must not take out additional credit over £500.

The conditions above do not apply for Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space.

There are certain debts cannot be included in the breathing space. These include ongoing rent or mortgage payments, ongoing utilities and council tax, unless you have received a reminder notice for the remaining year’s bill for council tax.

Although Creditors cannot apply or backdate the interest accrued or take enforcement action during the breathing space, once the breathing space has ended, if you haven’t kept up with payments it may still be treated as a breach of the repayment plan

Who can provide Breathing Space?

Breathing Space can only be provided by a debt adviser regulated by FCA to provide Debt counseling or a local Authority who provides debt advice to its residents.

The Debt Advisor Limited are regulated by the FCA and all our advisors have undergone detailed training on Breathing Space.

The breathing space process

  1. Get debt advice
    If you get debt help from us, we’ll check to see if you could benefit from Breathing Space, and if you’re eligible.
  2. Apply
    If you’re eligible and would like to apply, we’ll submit your application to the Insolvency Service, who administer the scheme.
  3. Breathing Space starts
    Once your application is submitted, your Breathing Space will start. This will usually happen within two working days.
  4. First 20 days
    Creditors can challenge your application for Breathing Space, as well as specific debts being included in the scheme.
  5. Add debts
    You can add a debt to Breathing Space after it has started as long as the debt existed before your Breathing Space began. The protections will then applying for the remainder of the 60 days.
  6. Creditor review
    The clock for creditors to challenge the inclusion of a new debt restarts when the new debt is added, but this only applies for the new debt, with protection still in place for other debts.
  7. The 30 day review
    After 30 days, we’ll review of your situation. In most cases, this will result in the scheme continuing for the full 60 days, but Breathing Space could be cancelled or specific debts could be removed in certain circumstances.

When contact is made with The Debt Advisor during the initial call the adviser will be able to determine whether Standard Breathing Space or Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space is appropriate.

If so details of your name, address, date of birth and creditor details will be added to the electronic service.

Your details will then be entered into the moratorium register by the end of the following working day

Breathing Space will then start the following day and creditors will be notified of the Breathing Space via the online portal.

For Standard Breathing Space there will be a mid way review after day 25 and day 35. This review is to determine all of the conditions for the Standard Breathing Space are being met.

For Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space the debt adviser will contact the nominated point of contact to check whether the individual is still receiving mental health crisis treatment every 20-30 days. Once the mental health crisis treatment has ended the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space will end 30 days later.

Important Information

All debt solutions should be very carefully considered. Fees will be charged if a solution is taken in order for us to set up your plan and maintain it – all fees will be outlined during your consultation. For further information on fees, please see the FAQ section of the different solutions available. Retained payment may place you further into arrears. You have the right to a cooling off period of 14 days. It is likely that your ability to obtain further credit in the short term will be affected and this may also be the case over the medium to long term. Calls to our free phone number from mobile phones and other networks may be charged.

The Insolvency Service website has helpful information on to support those who find themselves in financial difficulty.

The Debt Advisor Ltd is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority. This means we are able to offer debt advice and deliver both formal and informal solutions. All debt solutions need to be carefully considered and you must take independent debt advice. We hope that the information and debt advice on this site including Frequently Asked Questions, will help inform you.

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Breathing Space

You could get up to 60 days’ respite from interest, fees, and court action to reduce stress and give you time to deal with your debts. The Breathing Space scheme is available in England and Wales. In Scotland, the debt moratorium period is similar, but has different benefits and considerations.